Tall Ships, Tall Order for Baltimore Commercial Real Estate
by Chrissy Hoffmaster, Copywriter/Project Manager at IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations
Virtual Tour of Baltimore
September 11 luncheon at the Hotel Monaco
While the Blue Angels roared through the sky above Baltimore’s Hotel Monaco, three commercial real estate experts treated CREWBaltimore members and guests to an electrifying virtual tour of the area’s most important upcoming projects.
With Central Maryland already home to numerous cutting-edge commercial properties, improving the local landscape is a tall order – even taller than the ships anchored for the Battle of Baltimore bicentennial. Must be why two of the featured projects will offer some of the best views of the Key Bridge and Inner Harbor!
All three projects are also raising the standards for efficiency, sustainability, and quality of life in commercial real estate. Let’s learn more…
The Rotunda in Hampden, Maryland
Presented by Chris Bell, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions and Development, Hekemian & Co.
A major renovation to the well-known local shopping center once managed by 2014 CREWBaltimore President Kim Hogan, The Rotunda project is designed to revitalize Hampden through a sustainable commercial property where people line up to live, dine, and shop. The design plans, which include hundreds of apartments, have taken every detail into consideration. Apartment residents will gain Harbor views, but The Rotunda itself will hardly tower over the area. Additional trees and convenient parking will make the renovated commercial property a welcome part of the tight-knit community.
- 5-acre site originally developed in 1920
- 379 apartment units accessible from central lobby
- 155,000 s/f retail on ground floor
- 140,000 s/f office space
- 8-story parking structure
14 neighborhoods’ worth of input
The Rotunda has been a popular destination for Hampden, Roland Park, and Medfield residents for decades. Those loyal shoppers weren’t about to let their beloved mall morph into something that could upset their way of life. Hats off to Hekemian for satisfying all 14 of the 21 area neighborhoods that contributed input on the design. The amazing line-up of retailers probably didn’t hurt, either – mouths are already watering for MOM’s Organic Market and Starbucks.
Towson Row in Towson, Maryland
Presented by Arsh Mirmiran, Partner, Caves Valley Partners
Located at York Road and Towsontown Boulevard, Towson Row is a multi-million dollar vertical mixed-use development. Designed partly to ease the burden of Towson University’s growing population through the addition of hundreds of student beds, it’s likely to also lighten a few wallets with its amazing retail offerings, to include a high-end grocery concept.
- 900 beds for TU students
- residential tower with 375 units
- ornamental railroad bridge spanning York Road
- archway and grand stair leading to plaza
- hotel and high-end restaurants
An elevated dining experience
Towson Row has ambitious aims to elevate the area’s dining options, already quite high thanks to The Melting Pot Restaurant. Though most of the new eateries will located at ground level, they’ll no doubt offer some of the best surf ‘n’ turf in the area. And for residents and students who prefer dinner and a movie, there will be no better place than the new Cobb Theatre in Towson– one of the world’s highest-end dine-in movie chains.
Downtown Columbia in Howard County, Maryland
Presented by Mark Thompson, Director, Downtown Redevelopment of Howard County
As Columbia approaches its 50th anniversary, residents should prepare for some major changes to the Mall Area, Lakefront, and Crescent Property. The Downtown Redevelopment Office is picking up where the Rouse Company left off – starting with the conversion of its world-renowned, Frank Gehry-designed headquarters into a long-awaited Whole Foods store. Look for the 30-year redevelopment plan to go hand-in-hand with HoCo’s motto, “Choose Civility,” and its focus on sustainability.
- $100M, 6-story new apartment building, The Metropolitan
- $8M renovation to Merrill Lynch building lobby
- plans for 13,880 s/f of addition retail and 34,500 s/f of additional parks/playgrounds
- $25M renovation to Rouse Company headquarters, now Columbia’s own Whole Foods
- 27,000 s/f mind/body retreat center Haven on the Lake, with views of Lake Kittamaqundi
- $5M expansion to Clyde’s of Columbia
- $19M in renovations to Merriweather Post Pavilion, Symphony Woods
- plans for 2,300 additional apartments, 1.4M s/f of additional office space, 313,000 s/f of additional retail space, and a 250-room hotel
HoCo Gets Around
“Our measure of success is when people pay to park in Columbia.” A lofty goal indeed, but Mark and his team have their work cut out for them. Not only does Columbia plan to reduce residents’ dependence on personal vehicles, but it also aims to add public transportation, including a circulator that would unite the Crescent’s key institutions: Howard General Hospital and Howard Community College. Also in the works: 94 miles of additional bicycle and pedestrian pathways, along with a new recreational park.
Q & A Session
Moderated by Beth Hardsock, President, Omega Fire & Life Safety
After the presentations, Beth led the panelists through a series of hard-hitting questions from CREWBaltimore members, including Teresa Terry and Theresa Tsamoutalis.
“How will each project address resident safety?”
- The Rotunda – Will prevent break-ins and muggings with 40 cameras located around the property. Nearly every square inch will be within camera view.
- Towson Row – Will model Harbor East security, with strategic lighting and landscaping; also, police segways and sub-station.
- Downtown Columbia – Will take a collaborative approach to security with help from local police department, including bike patrol of the new pathways.
“How is each project helping the area ‘go green’?”
- The Rotunda – Additional trees and sensible parking will make area even more bike-friendly.
- Towson Row – Towson City Center is already shockingly energy efficient, and Towson Row will be, too.
- Downtown Columbia – Streams restoration, green areas, bio-retention ponds, and other site-specific projects to help HoCo go ever greener.
“What opportunities are there for local or small businesses to get involved with the projects?”
- Towson Row – Hired a local architect design collective and general contractor Whiting Turner
- Downtown Columbia — HoCo goes local for most projects, although has hired some D.C.-based MEP specialists.
“What were the biggest challenges of each project?”
- The Rotunda – Getting everyone in the neighborhood to buy in – it’s a 5-year process to get anything developed.
- Towson Row – Complicated grocery store loading area – entire design built around that challenge
- Downtown Columbia – Educating consumers that parking will have to change…
“What have you learned from your projects that you can summarize in one sentence?”
- Chris Bell – “The best opportunities are those you can develop at the right time.”
- Arsh Mirmiran – “It’ll take twice as long as you think.”
- Mark Thompson – “Go slow to go fast.”
“When can I go shopping?”
- The Rotunda – Retailers open next fall.
- Towson Row – Starting demolition next spring.
- Downtown Columbia – Whole Foods opened in August!
Join us at our next luncheon, Industrial “In the Know,” at the Hotel Monaco on October 9. Sign up here!